By Bruce Corcoran
Chatham-Kent’s pickup truck performers, Megan and Pat Whalen, are ready to add a seasonal twist to their efforts to bring music to the masses during COVID-19.
Following a fun summer and fall of performing out of the back of a pickup truck, the duo, along with bassist Fil Stasiak, are ready to add a seasonal twist.
The Whelans have performed all across North America. In Megan’s case, she’s also performed in Europe. But one thing they had never done was perform together. It took a pandemic to make that happen.
And they did so even though there were no real platforms on which to publicly perform, as during the height of the lockdown; bars were closed and social distancing limitations didn’t allow people to congregate in numbers.
That didn’t stop them.
“The first couple of weeks of COVID, we were at home, kind of staring at each other. As performers, we’d never had time to work together. Well, we never took the time to just have fun in a musical sense,” Megan said. “Public performances, that wasn’t our goal at first. Our goal was to take some really fun photos and play some music. Pat wanted to sharpen his video skills too.”
They chose songs they both wanted to perform and went from there. But they enjoyed making music together, and word started to spread.
“We just had so much fun with it and people started liking it,” Megan said. “We were putting a creative puzzle together on our own. All of a sudden people said they really liked this stuff. We thought maybe a tour in a COVID-friendly way might be fantastic.”
But how do you tour in that manner with entertainment venues shut down? You take the tour to the public. Deep SW hit the road, literally, in the back of a pickup truck, playing tunes for interested citizens.
Pat said once word got out they were performing, people showed interest from all over.
Megan said the public really empowered them.
“We thought it would be only once or twice to sing out of the back of a truck. And then, three months later, we were busy so many weekends. We were able to give to so many charities and participate in so many fundraisers,” Megan said.
She said their summer performances took them all over Chatham-Kent, and beyond, as they performed in Sarnia and Lakeshore as well.
One performance in Ridgetown really stood out for the couple.
“We showed up in this cul-de-sac of glorious neighbours. They gave us flowers and homemade honey, and donated to a charity we were working with. It was like a parade had come to town,” Megan said. “It felt so special. They were all spread out social distance-wise. But we definitely felt the love.”
Pat said the payoff for him is performing with the love of his life to people who truly enjoy their music.
“Deep SW is a testament to doing something you love. The community helped make this happen. Although, we would have done it anyway because we love doing it,” he said.
Pat said with the onset of the holiday season, the pickup truck tour for Deep SW is shifting gears in several ways.
“We definitely have to adapt the show. We’re trying to do shorter sets to keep our fingers from going numb, and playing with different instruments that can take the cold a little better,” he said.
In terms of music, Megan said it will be “all Christmas and cowboy carols. Get your hot cocoa and get ready to sing.”
Deep SW is also working with Rise House International charity, which provides individuals and families with educational resources. It was formerly known as Hime for Help.
“We’ve donated a performance to them,” Pat said. “It’s important to us to give back to the community that has given to us.”
The love of working together has gone past the pickup truck. Pat said they are working on an album, set to come out in the New Year.
“We’ll put it out and see if people like it. Regardless, we’ll record more. It’s such a great opportunity to hang out with your partner and share a good time together,” Megan said.
Pat said the pandemic certainly makes people think.
“It has definitely put a lot of things in perspective; the things that really matter. This (performing together) brings us happiness and it brings the community a little bit of joy. In its simplicity, it is something really special.”